Leucadia merchants assess next steps after fire destroys building

Community members donate over $23K to damaged shops


Authorities are still investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed the site of four businesses, pictured Oct. 8, in Leucadia on Sept. 30. (Photo by Roman S. Koenig)

Julia Shapero

The cause of a fire that tore through four local businesses in Leucadia last Monday, Sept. 30, is still unknown, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Encinitas station.

Mozy Cafe, Shatto & Sons, Cali Life art gallery and Peace Pies, all located at the corner of North Coast Highway 101 and Daphne Street, sustained substantial damage from the fire, which was reported around midnight on Monday morning.

Within a week — by the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 8 — the merchants’ Go Fund Me efforts had collectively raised more than $23,000 toward rebuilding.

The Sheriff’s Bomb/Arson Unit is still investigating the cause of the fire, the sheriff’s Encinitas station reported in an email statement. However, it added there is currently no indication that the fire was an act of arson. Fire Department officials were seen examining the site Oct. 8.

The fire, which was upgraded to two alarms following the arrival of fire crews, was put out by around 6:30 a.m., said Kerri Berberet, Encinitas’ senior deputy fire marshal.

“When the fire crews were on their way in, based off the call they’d already received and seeing the smoke and fire about 30 feet or so in the air, they upgraded it to a two-alarm fire,” Berberet said. “This was a really stubborn fire. There was just a lot of little compartments and locked areas and bars on windows and whatnot that made it hard to access.”

The south end of the building, which housed the Cali Life art gallery and Shatto & Sons, had less fire damage than the part of the building that housed the cafe, Berberet added.

“But just based probably on the wall configuration and structural support and everything, I’m sure that was all compromised,” she said. “I’d say the building as a whole is going to have to be torn down and rebuilt.”

There were no injuries to any firefighters or civilians, Berberet said. However, fire crews did temporarily evacuate the homes adjacent to the building and close North Coast Highway 101 for a period of time following their arrival on the scene.

James Shatto, who owns the building, said they’re not exactly sure how much it will take to rebuild, but that it will be over half a million dollars. Shatto added he doesn’t know whether he will be able to rebuild it exactly the way it was.

“But it is going to get rebuilt and the plan is to bring it back to its original look as much as possible,” he said.

He said he and his son, Ryan Shatto, who owns Shatto & Sons, have received a lot of support since the fire.

“I’ve had a million people come up to me that I don’t even know and offer their condolences and tell me that they wish that I could bring it back to what it looked like originally as soon as possible,” he said.

Greg Cali, owner of the Cali Life art gallery, said he lost a lot of original art in the fire.

“I’ve got a lot of artwork that wasn’t for sale, because it meant so much to me that I brought down to the gallery to photograph and I never ended up photographing at the time,” Cali said.

He added he is still working on documenting what he lost in the fire.

“… The scariest part is just nothing’s really finalized yet of what’s going to be replaced,” Cali said. “And I’m still realizing certain things that I’ve lost every day; I kind of realize, remember what I had in there.”

I think we were all underinsured and not expecting such a devastating tragedy. We need the community’s support if we’re going to get reopened there.

— JP Alfred, Peace Pies owner

Cali said he’s grateful for the people who have donated so far to the art gallery, and he added that the gallery will still be holding its one-year anniversary party, which will double as a fundraising party. The fundraiser, which will be held at Pandora Pizza, will also feature Cali’s artwork.

JP Alfred, the owner of Peace Pies, said the days following the fire have been a blur.

“We’re just trying to figure everything out,” Alfred said. “A lot of people lost their jobs. And you know, there’s not a whole lot we can do about that with the situation, and we’re just trying to stay positive, and see what’s going to happen next.”

Peace Pies lost everything it had in the building, including tables, chairs, refrigerators and ingredients, Alfred said.

“We’re going to do whatever fundraising we can to try and get it back to what it was once the building is rebuilt,” he said.

All the separate businesses have GoFundMe pages set up to help with the rebuilding costs, Alfred added.

“I think we were all underinsured and not expecting such a devastating tragedy,” he said. “We need the community’s support if we’re going to get reopened there.”

Mozy Cafe owners could not be reached for comment for this story, but on the eatery’s Go Fund Me page, the business states that it faces the kind of challenge Alfred mentioned.

“… Sadly we find ourselves in the position of being underinsured,” Mozy’s owners wrote. “We need your help to revive one (of) the last old and funky Leucadian landmarks and community gathering spots.”

Julia Shapero is an Encinitas freelance writer

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